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Canadiens power play has been brutal — even comically bad

Canadiens  power play has been brutal — even comically bad
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Canadiens centre Max Domi takes a hit from Wild defenceman Greg Pateryn this week. Montreal GM Marc Bergevin says one of the reasons his team s power play has been so poor is that his players are being outworked. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette

The Canadiens work on it before practice, during practice and sometimes even after practice. But their power play still isn’t working.

Brendan Gallagher did score a power-play goal in Thursday night’s 4-1 loss to the Blues in St. Louis, but the Canadiens are now 1-for-17 with the man advantage in the last six games and rank last in the NHL with a 12.8 per cent success rate. The Canadiens also gave up a short-handed goal to the Blues.

In a word, the power play has been brutal — even comically bad — and if it doesn’t improve the Canadiens probably aren’t going to make the playoffs.

Claude Julien has delegated the power play to associate coach Kirk Muller — with help from assistant Dominique Ducharme — but you have to wonder at what point the head coach takes over. Or maybe Julien calls former head coach Guy Carbonneau — now an analyst with RDS — to see if he has any ideas. During Carbonneau’s two full seasons as coach of the Canadiens, they had the best power play in the NHL, clicking at 22.8 per cent in 2006-07 and 24.1 per cent in 2007-08.

When Marc Bergevin spoke with TSN 690 Radio’s Dan Robertson and Sergio Momesso before Friday night’s game, the general manager placed the power-play blame on the players, not the coaching staff. The GM also said the power play was the biggest disappointment during the first half of the season.

“It’s been a struggle all year,” Bergevin said. “We do have the personnel that I believe could make it work, but right now they’re searching, forcing plays, not taking what they give you. Remember, we’re five, they’re four. The guys that kill penalties are workers and sometimes I feel like we’re getting outworked on the power play and that’s just what’s happening. Again, it definitely needs to be better.”

After Thursday’s game, Julien said the power-play problems were the result of a lack of pace and work ethic. He even put out the fourth line at the end of one power play — obviously looking to make a point — and they looked better than the regular units.

When Bergevin was asked on TSN 690 if he might look to make a trade to help the power play, the GM said: “If you look at the personnel we have now, they should be good enough to have a good power play. Night in and night out you got (Jonathan) Drouin, (Max) Domi, (Jeff) Petry, Weby ( Shea Weber ). You got (Tomas) Tatar, you got KK (Jesperi Kotkaniemi). You got a lot of guys that should be making our power play work. Again, I’m always going to look to make the team better. But to say that I’m going to go grab somebody that’s going to make it work, if you don’t outwork the other team on the power play it doesn’t matter who’s out there. So I think it’s within our team. I believe we have to get better.”

No kidding.

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